Nothing could have prepared me for the shock of finding out I was pregnant. I mean, there were signs but I was too busy working a full time job and planning the wedding of my dreams to notice them. At first, it felt more like the flu. Then one morning, as I was getting ready for work, I knew something was different about my body. No there was no baby bump staring back at me in the mirror, at least not yet. It was just a feeling, an awful, sick to my stomach, pray to the porcelain gods, feeling.
Each morning I eat a Rice Krispy Treat for breakfast. What a well balanced meal, huh? Unusual, I know, but maybe I’m just a five year old at heart. Anyway, it’s been my routine for years. On this particular morning, I didn’t feel like eating much of anything at all but knowing I had a nine hour work day ahead of me, I tried to force it down the hatch anyways. In hindsight, I should have listened to my body. Within minutes, I was racing to the bathroom faster than a horse at the Kentucky Derby. I reached the toilet just in time to upchuck not only the Krispy Treat but also the previous night’s dinner. What a welcome to my life for the next nine months.
The next day, we went to the doctor, who had me pee on a stick. Sure enough, he came back to the room with a hearty, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant!” He also explained that my illness was just nausea brought on by the changing hormones. I’ll never forget what he said next, it was well meant but ultimately useless advice. “Try some ginger tea, ginger ale, or anything with ginger in it. That should help with the nausea.” So David and I went the grocery store and bought every product labeled ginger that we could find. I’m not kidding. There was even ginger candy.
Morning sickness, ha, I wasn’t going to let a little nausea slow me down. I figured I could pop one of those ginger candies whenever I started to feel a little rocky and it would sort everything out right away. If that really worked, then you wouldn’t be reading any of this. The first time I tried to eat one of those things, I barely had it in my mouth for a minute before I was hunched over on the pavement, heaving my guts out.
Three weeks had passed. Three weeks of calling out of work. Crawling from the bed to the toilet. It only seemed to be getting worse. The few times I tried to tough it through work, I wound up getting sent home sick. It was like someone was killing me, resurrecting me, and then killing me again, before asking me to make him dinner.
One of the days that I actually made it into work, I found myself puking at the side of the car in the parking lot. Eventually, I was able to pull it together enough to go in but that didn’t last long. I should have stayed home that morning. About an hour into my shift, my nausea achieved a new level of nastiness. One minute I was doing my thing and the next I passed out. I woke up in a break room with my coworkers around me. David was called and he took me to the emergency room.
After the doctors and nurses poked, prodded, and took enough blood to satisfy Edward Cullen, we were told that I was severely dehydrated and over heated. The doctor prescribed anti-nausea medicine, the kind they give to chemo patients. My OBGYN explained that all of my symptoms pointed towards a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because I am lucky enough to share the same diagnosis with the Duchess of Cambridge. I wouldn’t exactly call it the Royal Treatment. Trust me, as flattered as I was to have something in common with royalty, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Because of that, I was put on bed rest until the baby was born.
You might think, how nice to get nine months off of work, but being that sick 24/7 is not my idea of a relaxing vacation. From my view of the bathroom floor, I watched the days, weeks, and months go by, hoping that I would soon start to feel a little bit like my old self. But nothing changed.
Now, you might think I am exaggerating. Lots of women go through morning sickness. Shouldn’t I just toughen up and learn to live with it? Morning sickness only lasts through the first trimester anyways right? According to Web M.D. fewer than 200,000 cases appear in the United States per year. It’s so rare in England that most doctors don’t prescribe anything to help the suffering mother. It turns out that hyperemesis is a rare type of extreme nausea/vomiting during pregnancy and lucky me, it lasted all thirty-eight weeks.
The nausea medicine helped a little bit and by a little bit, I mean that it kept my face out of the toilet at least half the day. It was a minor improvement that seemed like a miracle at the time. Every doctors visit made me feel a little bit better because they would always reassure me that none of this was harming the baby. As one doctor so kindly put it. “The baby takes what it needs from you. It’s mommy that has to suffer.” So basically I’m left feeling like a high school teen binging and purging.
On October 30th, something amazing happened. As soon as I pushed that little guy out of me, the hyperemesis vanished without a trace. Granted, I did hemorrhage and Luke and I almost died but we can’t blame the hyperemesis for that, can we? Despite how awful it made me feel, I would go through it all over again in a heartbeat. Besides, this was just a warm up for the annual baby that we plan to have, right David? By number six we’ll be pro’s at this whole hyperemesis thing.